Sand Company Volunteers Help Restore Pine Creek

A volunteer initiative of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company, a division of Chardon, Ohio-based Fairmount Minerals Ltd., is being honored by the National Fish Habit Plan for efforts to restore the Pine Creek Watershed near the company’s mine site in Maiden Rock, Wis.

Pine Creek has been named to the Action Plan’s 2009 10 “Waters to Watch” list, a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, watershed systems, and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore, or enhance their current condition. These waters represent a snapshot of current conservation efforts that the Action Plan is undertaking to provide cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.

More than a century of past agricultural and logging activities contributed significant sediment loads to Pine Creek, causing the Mississippi River tributary to deteriorate into a muddy, slow-moving stream, negatively impacting its population of native brook trout. Through the collaboration of Fairmount Minerals, Trout Unlimited, the West Wisconsin Land Trust and other organizations, Pine Creek has been transformed into a clear fast-moving stream with low grassy banks and improved trout habitat.

"We are proud of our Wisconsin Family Members and their volunteer efforts for Pine Creek Watershed Restoration,” said Chuck Fowler, Fairmount Minerals president and chief executive officer. “Giving our Time, Talents, and Treasures is our way of serving our communities.”

Fowler noted that members at the company’s headquarters in Chardon, Ohio, are now involved in a similar watershed rehabilitation for Shadybrook Creek, a tributary of the Chagrin River. Fairmount Minerals members earlier participated in an effort to restore another section of the Chagrin where it meets the Cuyahoga River.

The Pine Creek project initially focused on the repair of 3,600 feet of stream bank and nearby riparian terrain; as well as design and placement of in-stream structures to improve depth, water velocity, overhead cover, and bottom substrate. These changes created significantly better water conditions for trout and their food species, including insects, crustaceans, and amphibians. While volunteer turnout for work sessions was strong, the increasingly ambitious scale of the project created a need for significantly more help.

“We saw an opportunity to give back to our community through volunteerism,” said Tim Stauffer, regional manager of Fairmount Minerals. “As a company, Fairmount Minerals recognizes habitat restoration as an important part of the company’s commitment to sustainable development. We ask all of our employees to contribute 40 hours of paid volunteer time each year within the community. With the Pine Creek project, we could literally see the results of those hours improving our natural environment.”

The Washington, D.C.-based National Fish Habitat Action Plan is the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to treat the causes of aquatic habitat decline and fix the nation’s most pressing fisheries problems. Its 10 “Waters to Watch” Initiative was first unveiled in 2007 through its Fish Habitat Partnerships. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $5.8 million to support 136 on-the-ground projects in 35 states, leveraging $15.1 million in partner match, to address the priorities of the Fish Habitat Partnerships, along with funding from several other state and federal agencies and NGOs. More information, including a complete list of the “Waters to Watch,” can be found at www.fishhabitat.org.

A producer of industrial sand, Fairmount employs more than 400 people at 20 mining and mineral processing plants in the United States, Canada, China and Mexico. It products are used in metal casting, water filtration, glass production, golf and sports turf, oil and gas production, and commercial floor coatings.

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